ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (21-20) failed to get anything going against the Lynchburg Hillcats (20-21) as they fell 10-2.
The Mudcats would take an early lead as they took advantage of an error in the first but the Mudcats would be unable to create any distance. The Hillcats would take advantage as following a home run in the fourth that tied the game they would score three in the sixth, two in the seventh and four in the ninth to take the first two games of the series.
Jordan Cooper got the start for the Mudcats, only his second start of the year as he has made 21 appearances out of the bullpen. Cooper would allow four runs over his five and two third innings of work but he did keep the Mudcats in the game.
“Cooper did good, he gave us what we were asking for. He gave us five solid innings and kept us in the game but then again our offense needs to score runs” said manager Edwin Rodriguez. However regarding if this start is any indication of a role change Rodriguez said “I doubt that he is going to stay in the rotation.”
However Kyle Blair who came in to relieve Cooper would have a lot of trouble tonight. Blair would surrender six runs on seven hits over his three and a third innings of work.
A highlight for the Mudcats tonight was shortstop Tony Wolters who picked up his team leading 100th hit on the year as he drove a single back up the box in the seventh. “When you go back he only had nine hits in April. He has come a long way, it’s good for him that he took those struggles and made himself not only a better player but a better person. This game is going to humble everybody, he’s come through his struggles and he’s better for it” said Rodriguez.
An error by right fielder Adam Milligan in the bottom of the first would allow the Mudcats to take an early lead. Wolters would lead off the Mudcats half with a deep drive to right that sent Milligan to the warning track. Milligan seemed to have a beat on the ball but the ball would deflect off his glove as Wolters was able to motor all the way to third. Right fielder Bo Greenwell would then take advantage of the opportunity as he drove a single right back up the middle to bring home Wolters and give the Mudcats the early 1-0 lead.
Third baseman Edward Salcedo would bring the game back to even in the fourth as he drove a ball over the left field wall to lead off the inning.
The Hillcats would take their first lead of the game in the sixth as they were able to drive in three runs while chasing Cooper from the game. Left fielder Dan Brewer led off the inning with a single to center. Brewer would then move to third on a double by Milligan putting two runners in scoring position for Salcedo. Salcedo would drive in his second run of the game as he hit a sac fly to deep center to bring home Brewer as Milligan was able to move up to third. First baseman Chris Garcia was able to get a sac fly of his own as he drove a ball to center to score Milligan. Following the sac flies, three straight two out singles the last of which being an infield single by catcher Chad Comer that drove in DH David Rohm for the third run of the inning putting the Mudcats down 4-1. Cooper would depart following the infield single as Kyle Blair came in to finish off the inning as he got Jones to fly out.
A two run seventh would allow the Hillcats to start to pull away from the Mudcats. Shortstop Nick Ahmed got the inning started with a single to left and would be pushed to second when Blair hit Brewer. Milligan would then hit a grounder to second that seemed to be a perfect ball for a double play but an errant throw by Wolters to first allowed Milligan to reach and Ahmed to score as the Mudcats only could get one out on the play. Then following a groundout by Salcedo to give the Mudcats two outs Blair was unable to get out of the inning as Garcia singled to right to push across Milligan to push the lead to 6-1.
The Mudcats would get a run back as they jumped on the Hillcat bullpen in the seventh. Ryne Harper was the first reliever out of the pen for the Hillcats and he would be greeted rudely as left fielder Anthony Gallas was able to drive a double into the left field gap to lead off the inning. It looked like the Mudcats may waste the double as DH Tyler Cannon struck out and Catcher Dwight Childs popped out to short to leave Gallas at second with two outs. Wolters however would come through as he drove his 100th hit of the year up the middle to drive in Gallas.
Blair would surrender four more in the ninth as he became very wild as he had three wild pitches in the inning. Bobby Stevens led off with a pinch hit double to left center. Following a strikeout by Salcedo, Blair would walk Garcia. Then with Rohm batting Blair would unleash two wild pitches the second of which would allow Stevens to come in to score while Garcia moved to third. Rohm would eventually walk to put runners on the corners. Second baseman Matt Weaver would keep the offense going as he singled in Garcia. Blair would strike out Comer to then only give up another single to Jones that would drive in Rohm and move Weaver to third. Then with Ahmed batting Blair would throw his third wild pitch of the inning to allow Weaver to score before he would get Ahmed to fly out to center to end the inning.
The Mudcats will look to salvage the final game of the series as they face off at 2:00 at Five County Stadium for the final game of the homestand.